Dark side of INSEAD - how the school destroyed the life of one MBA
A few weeks ago I mentioned on WSO that INSEAD has a dark side. A bunch of people DM'ed me, asking to learn more about our experience (my wife was an INSEAD student, and I was her sig-o keeping her company). I have decided to come out and share this experience so that perspective students can evaluate INSEAD in a full-spectrum.
TLDR: INSEAD was pretty ridiculously harsh about grades and kicked my wife out, and ruined her life.
They pretend to be a "safe place to fail" and "inclusive of foreign cultures" when in reality neither is the opposite. It would be truer to say "we do NOT tolerate failure, and you're not safe" and "we bend your foreign culture to the European way."
My wife is mainland Chinese, and her English was not great. After she got the offer, she had to choose between the top Chinese MBA and INSEAD. Given her concerns over language of instruction, she was apprehensive about attending INSEAD. INSEAD made a bit show about being a "safe place to fail" and their culturally inclusive nature - a line we heard multiple times on campus.
She then began attending INSEAD in Singapore. She was shy about raising her hand in class. In many classes 50% of the points are for class participation. That is so that any student can shoot up their hand, flap their lips and get 50% credit as a baseline. In a sense, it gives the Americans and Europeans get more points to start with then their more reserved Asian counterparts. (You should hear some of the mindless gum flapping that happens). My wife's cultural background made her VERY uncomfortable to speak in class, for both cultural and linguistic reasons. So instead she worked her ass off (100+ hrs / wk) so she could grasp the material. Her class participation grades were 0, and she earned a 1.98 GPA, when the minimum was 2.0, and the school kicked her out. They flat-out refused to 'round up' or take into account that English was not her native language,
In the summer in the middle of her INSEAD experience she completed a summer internship at Goldman Sachs, and received a return offer. At the end of the summer, the school contacted her, and told her she was not welcome back at all due to academic dismissal. They refused to accept that 1.98 GPA could be rounded up to meet the 2.0 GPA threshold. She went to Singapore to discuss with the dean directly, who for several days refused to see her. She camped out in the cafe next to the school until he consented to meet with her in his office. He told her she failed to meet their academic threshold, that she would not be receiving her tuition back for completed classes, but that could have back her tuition for the classes not-yet taken. He then had security escort her to the edge of campus and confiscate her student ID! She felt like a criminal and broke down crying at the edge of campus, having just been physically removed from the campus and having her ID physically removed from her person. Like refuse discarded from the school under armed guard. Ultimately her full time offer at GS was rescinded since she did not complete the MBA. The trauma of the experience left her unwilling to interview for professional jobs. She feels so humiliated at having to explain why she left a good job to go to attend INSEAD and then not complete it.
Now instead she invests privately for our little family in distressed real estate. Fortunately she's quite good at that, and her most recent deal will net us $4-5mn. But the way the school treated her was beyond abysmal and inexcusable.
Perspective students should know about INSEAD and how they treat students. Especially as they bill themselves as "the business school for the world" which is particularly egregious BS.